CLINTON-ASIA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Tokyo Monday on the
first of four stops in Asia - her first visit abroad as President
Barack Obama's chief diplomat.
During her week-long trip to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China,
Clinton will express the administration's interest in the region as
Washington seeks to halt North Korea's nuclear arms program and
stabilize the global economy.
Her visit to Japan comes after Tokyo announced that Asia's leading
economy shrank by more than three percent in the last three months of
In Indonesia, Clinton is expected to seek closer cooperation with the
10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. She has said
she would urge ASEAN to work for improved human rights in Burma.
PAKISTAN MISSILE: A security official in Pakistan says a suspected U.S. drone (pilotless aircraft) fired missiles at a building used by Taliban militants in Pakistan's Kurram tribal region, near the Afghan border.
Witnesses say at least 12 people were killed in the missile attack. The
security official did not immediately confirm the witnesses' claims.
If verified, this would be the first suspected drone attack in Kurram.
The strike comes just days after the new U.S. envoy to the region,
Richard Holbrooke, visited Pakistan to talk to senior officials about
security in the border region.
US ECONOMY: U.S. President Barack Obama's press secretary says the president will
sign a $787 billion stimulus package into law on Tuesday in Denver,
Colorado -- but he warned the economy will likely get worse before it
Robert Gibbs spoke on U.S. television Sunday (CBS News' Face the Nation) about
the bill approved by Congress last week. He said the recent jump in
unemployment signals that the economy has not ended its decline.
But he and President Obama's senior White House adviser, David Axelrod,
said they expect positive effects from the measure soon. Axelrod said
the plan is the right size to "break the hard edge" of the recession.
JAPAN ECONOMY: Japan's economy shrank by 3.3 percent in the last quarter of 2008, the
sharpest decline for the world's second largest economy in 35 years.
It was the third straight quarter of contraction in Japan's gross domestic product.
The government has blamed a slump in exports and production for Japan's deepening recession.
NOKOR-KIM BIRTHDAY: North Korea celebrated the 67th birthday of leader Kim Jong Il Monday,
with rallies, dancing, exhibitions and lavish praise from
Mr. Kim's birthday is one of the North's biggest national holidays,
along with that of his late father Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994.
The official Korean Central News Agency called Mr. Kim the greatest
leader of the present era and said that under his leadership, the
Korean people's aspiration after a rich and strong county would be
attained without fail.